29 Feb 2012

How To Make Paper Plant Pots

I have always wanted to be more 'green' so the idea of making my own plant pots appealed. I had heard of paper pot making equipment but knew wrapping paper around a tin can would work just as well, so I gave it a go.

1. Take a paper potter and wrap rectangles of newspaper around it.
2. Place in a tray and fill each pot with compost and moisten but don't soak them otherwise the  paper will go mouldy.
3. Choose your seeds and pop one into the centre of each pot, covering slightly.
4. Cover the pots with cling film until germination. Depending on what you are growing, the directions on the packet may require you to keep the pots in darkness for the start of germination.

The pots can go straight into the ground, leaving no risk of transplant shock.
Finish off with some homemade plant labels so you know what you are growing. I think the wooden spoons are great, any other ideas?

28 Feb 2012

How to paint terracotta plant pots

I decided to make some colourful plant pots to house our little strawberry seedlings. Suddenly a whole world of imagaination came to mind from bright colours, to glittered stripes and even landmarks ( a pot with Buckingham Palace on could be interesting!)

So here's how to paint a terracotta plant pot:

Painted Flowerpots

1. Brush dark blue acrylic paint around the base of the pot. Add white paint to the mix and paint the lighter shade around the top. This creates a nice sky effect. You may find it better to dab the brush rather than paint it on smoothly.

2. Once dried, dab on thick white paint to make clouds.You can also use a sponge or multi-purpose pens such as giotto.

3. Using any colour, maybe red, paint on butterflies to finish. You can paint anything you want. Use markers to add details or write a message.

4. Varnish over the dry pot to set your handywork in place.

Other Ideas for Painted Flowerpots

Let your little ones create their own masterpeices

How about a metallic night scene? Go faster flames,Bees and flowers,Stripes and glitter?

27 Feb 2012

How To Grow Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is a great vegetable to grow, it looks wonderful, it's super sweet and you can make lots of delicious recipes with it. You can buy seeds from any garden centre or online and even make your own popcorn.

1. Sow your seeds in a large tub or propogator about 1.5cm deep. Keep watered and warm until germination occurs. This will be within 7-21 days.

2. Once the shoots appear, you can leave the tub outside to get used to the sun. You should not do this if there is still a lot of frost.

3. Sweetcorn is a large growing vegetable so any container used to grow this in needs to be big. A wooden crate on it's side would work. Try using tyres stacked on top of each other or old washing baskets lined with cardboard.

4. Plant each seedling in mutli-purpose compost. Keep the seedlings together to aid pollination. Position them in full sun and keep watered.

5. Keep roots covered with compost and water with tomato feed every two weeks.

6. The plants can reach up to 2 metres tall so use bamboo poles to support them as they get bigger. The corn is ready when the silky outer layer turns brown.

How about making one of my delicious sweetcorn recipes or try making decorations and crafts from sweetcorn leaves.

Eat It: Sweetcorn Fritters

Use your homegrown sweetcorn to make these delicious fritters, ideal for a snack or a light lunch.

1. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and egg into a food processor and blitz to make a batter.
2. Stir in your home-grown sweetcorn and onions.
3. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and drop in teaspoonfuls of batter. Cook for 1 minute in batches of 5 until golden and then turn and cook on the other side for another minute,
4. Drain on kitchen paper before serving.
5. You can freeze these fritters and re-heat when required. You also substitute some or all of the sweetcorn with other vegetables.

This recipe makes 15 fritters and is courtesy of Annabel Karmel. Eating these contributes to 1 of your 5 a day!

22 Feb 2012

Plants for Topiary

What is Topiary?
Topiary is an ancient art of clipping bushes and trees into decorative shapes. Plants can also be trained to climb up a frame resulting in symmetrical, neat shapes or animals.

What Plants Are Best For Topiary?
Privet is used in garden hedges.
  • Yew is a slow-growing evergreen. It can grow over 10 feet high and looks spectacular when trimmed into spirals with a hedge trimmer.
  • Box is ideal for small topiary.
  • Shrubby honeysuckle is a fast growing hedge.
  • Juniper is a hardy plant with dense leaves.
  • Bay trees can be trained into twisty stems and a neat clipped bush.

How Does Topiary Take Shape?
You will need a wire frame in the shape of your choice and a suitable pot. Place the frame in soil and plant something like box to start with as it is easy to maintain. The wire frames cna be simple like a circle or complicated like a dolphin. As the plant grows up the frame gently tease it in the right direction and clip only when the leaves are outgrowing the frame. Don't over do it!

Click on the pictures to go to the site.
These ducks look great flying across the water, not sure how they reach them to maintain, maybe by boat?

Ahhh, so cute, Donald looks fab.
Standard topiary balls and spirals look really classy.

A little bit scary or a lot of fun?

7 Feb 2012

Why grow your own?

"You are what you eat!" my mother used to say. I never really understood that until I had children. The chicken nugget days are over, I want as much wholesome , home-grown veg as possible and above all to feel healthier. The downside is that I'm a self confessed plant murderer so doing things 'simply' is a good direction for me to go in. I learn mostly from my daughter who is five and can dig and water and 'grow your own' as good as anyone.

Supermarket vs Home-Grown Veg

Shop vegetables are often grown for their uniformity. Cucumbers have to be long and green, tomatoes red and round etc whereas at home your veg does whatever is natural. At home there's no transportation issues, the vegetables haven't been stored for long periods in grotty containers or washed in chlorine to destrop bacteria. I'll never buy at shops again.

A Veg For All Seasons

My veggie patch is pretty much in constant use. I can be eating spinach, swede and leeks in winter, potatoes most of the year, salad, cucumber and tomatoes in summer and tasty pumkins in autumn. As I only have a small space, I utilise the balcony and pop a few cabbages in window boxes and containers. I love container gardening, this means the kids can easily muck in too.

Nature's Goodness

My favourite time is the harvest. There's nothing better than  picking the produce that you have grown. It's exciting and rather satisfying to say to visitors, "I grew all those veg." Of course you need the recipes to show off your goods, so look here for inspiration and start to 'grow-your-own'.

grow your own vegetables, grow your own veg, vegetable patch, make a vegetable patch, home grown veg, seasonal veg, harvest vegetables, container gardening.

2 Feb 2012

Get Your Garden Designed For Free!

Yes, my dreams have come true, Alan Titchmarsh is asking for people to contact his show if you want your garden re-designed for free. So needless to say I have already put my name forwards! Well why not, I would love to have a celebrity digging in my back yard, I might even get a few tips. So if you fancy a change contact 'The Alan Titchmarsh Show' call Emily on 02070 656900 or email titchmarshproduction@spungoldtv.com. You need only send two photos and the area should be small and can be made  into a mini-sanctuary.

I have the prefect area for this down by the shed. What about you, what would you have re-designed. Let me know if you have applied and were successful, I would love to see how you get on.